Introducing children to gardening

I don’t remember when I fell in love with gardening, but it wasn’t as a child. I didn’t like weeding or raking. Bugs, grubs and spiders were at home in the garden – not me. I loved the stories about foxgloves and ladyslippers (the magic behind the plants), but gardening in and of itself wasn’t much fun. Just dirty work with creepy crawlies.

As a young mother while trying to build my professional career, the gardens were about keeping the curb appeal of the house looking neat and clean, and supplementing my household groceries. Strategically placed pots and very small garden beds were about all I had time for.

Ladyslipper and a spider

Ladyslipper and a spider

The passion for gardening came as the external pressures of the office and family reduced… well and my ability to spend time and money increased. Finding joy in getting something to grow evolved as with age I learned to appreciate quiet time. Well as quiet as it can be with two cocker spaniels sniffing out non-existent vermin and barking every time a neighbor walks by with a wave and a hello.

The other day I read someone else’s blog regarding children and gardening. She suggested that if you want to teach your kids how to enjoy gardening that you should get them involved at a young age with small jobs to engage and involve them. She suggested collecting pine cones, pulling dandelions or picking fruit.  She was sure that once you had their interest that rewards (like allowance) wouldn’t be necessary because they would be having so much fun. She encouraged allowing them to plant their own garden with big showy plants like sunflowers.

Maybe my sons were particularly cantakerous. Maybe I didn’t find enough fun jobs. But hey, my mom didn’t either. I’m unconvinced that children want to garden. Maybe they enjoy family activities. Maybe they like the bragging rights of a really huge tomato. But I’d argue it takes a level of maturity to choose sitting quietly in the sun pulling weeds over choosing the fun of a really loud, shoot-em up video game, biking at breakneck speed down the hill or playing with friends.

As with most things in life, there is a time. I’m hoping that as my children get gray hair that maybe they’ll remember my gardens and give it a shot too. Already my youngest is giving it a try with a small patch of various types of South American and Asian peppers. My fingers are crossed that this is just the beginning for him.


About Kary Beck

Mother and wife, gardener, wine enthusiast, avid online bargain hunter, and owner of two black-and-tan cocker spaniels.
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